Network/connect with people in the field
Connecting with others is one of the most important aspects of your career development for researching potential careers, networking with people in fields you’re interested in, seeking out or creating career opportunities, and looking for a job. All of your connections are valuable ones, whether they’re friends, family members, fellow students, employers, teammates, professors, roommates, or neighbors. For the purposes of beginning and furthering your own career, it is important that you value all the connections you have and continue to make new connections, particularly in the career field you’re interested in.
Start by taking a few minutes to look at who is in your current network. You'll be surprised at how extensive your network already is!
Identify your current network
Make a list of friends, family members; as well as family members of your friends. You may also include teachers, professors, employers, or volunteer supervisors. Try not to leave anybody out!
Think of ways your network could be helpful to you
Once you have completed your list, consider if there any people among your current connections who are in the field you’re interested in, hoping to get into that field, or who may know somebody in that field. If so, find a way to make a connection with them. If it’s somebody already working in the field you’re interested in, an informational interview might be a good way to start.
Resources to help you identify and develop your network
Job Search and Networking Strategies: Want to be more effective in getting the job you want? Find out how to uncover and create career opportunities by learning how employers fill job openings. Learn how to uncover hidden opportunities and build relationships that maximize your job search efforts.
The Importance of Professional Networking: This brief video answers the question: “Is it important to network when I’m not job hunting?”
Approaching friends, family, and people you already know is the easiest way to start building your network! These are the people who know you best so they’re the ideal people to recommend you to others for career exploration, or job search information. Look around your neighbourhood or your residence. Are there ways to get involved? Ways to make a contribution?
How can you be a good neighbour?
You may want to begin by visiting your local community centre and inquiring about volunteer positions, or events in the area, then offering your help. It's a great way to meet others and find out more about them—and to let them know more about you!
It’s important, however, to ensure that your friends know what you’re looking for — so be specific. Give them detailed information, not just about your interests, abilities and experience, but about how they can help you get what you want. Ask your friends how you can help them. Never forget that networks are give and take, not just take.
Example of a good networking request
"I’ve done some volunteer work at YMCA so I’m familiar with non-profit and have some experience working with children and youth, but I’d like to talk to somebody who’s currently working in the non-profit sector about opportunities in program management. If you know of anyone working as a manager in non-profit — or if you know somebody who knows someone — could you please either give me their name or give them my contact information so I can arrange an informational interview? Here is where I can be reached".
Do you know how to make connections without being a nuisance? Take the time to learn acceptable networking behavior so your connections with others will be more successful.
Networking can be a positive experience
One of the reasons networking often conjures up negative images is that many people attempt to network in ways that are inappropriate — including being disrespectful of others' time, being "pushy" or insincere, failing to express appropriate gratitude, and taking without giving back…just to name a few! That's why it's so important to know how to utilize your connections both appropriately and effectively.
While online and print research can be invaluable, there's no substitute for getting information straight from the source!
If there's a particular occupation, field or company you're interested in, find someone who is working in that area and ask if you can speak with them honestly about the job, company, or field they're involved in.
Career Centre Resources to help you connect with people in your field of interest
TASTE (Take a Student to Eat): TASTE’s bite-sized mentoring program gives you the chance to meet with York alumni who will share information about their jobs, industries, sectors and organizations—over lunch!
Career Conversations Panel Series: Listen to inspiring career stories and learn about career options from professionals working in a variety of fields.
Informational Interviewing [PDF - 65 kB]: Tips for informational interviewing from the York University Career Centre.
- Networking Tip Sheet [PDF - 75 kB]
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